PAC fundraising tops $33 million for '04 cycle

LANSING – The House Republican Campaign Committee and the Michigan House Democratic Fund led all Michigan political action committees in fundraising for the 2004 election cycle. The House Republicans became the first Michigan PAC to raise $3 million in a two-year election cycle, although the committee ended the cycle with a $700,000 debt. The House Democrats raised $1.9 million and ended with a $140,000 debt.

The top 150 PACs raised $33 million, the same amount raised by the top 150 PACs in 2002.

Familiar names maintained their positions at the top of the PAC fundraising list for the most part. New committees among the leaders included Attorney General Mike Cox's 5200 Club (11th) and Governor Jennifer Granholm's Leadership Fund (15th).

Major new individual contributors included Jim and John Walton, heirs of retail magnate Sam Walton, who each gave $100,000 to the "education choice" Great Lakes Education Project.

One new committee that should be listed among the top 20 PACs, the Citizens for Judicial Reform, is absent because so far it has failed to file a report that was due on January 31st. The committee filed its statement of organization in the last week before the November 2nd election and spent $400,000 on television advertisements opposing incumbent Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman according to data collected from Michigan broadcasters and cable system operators by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

"Even though Michigan's economy remains sluggish, a lot of interest groups in Lansing are in growth mode," said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "Blue Cross/Blue Shield, DTE and the manufactured housing industry all had major legislative issues at stake this election cycle, and it shows in the increase of money they raised and spent. There is generally a strong correlation between the list of top PACs and the legislative agenda."

Only the legislative-caucus PACs are subject to contribution limits in Michigan. The maximum contribution to those committees is $20,000 per year, while all other PACs are free to accept unlimited contributions. In contrast, the maximum contribution to a federal PAC is $5,000 per year.

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